Debbie Friedman died yesterday at age 59 after years of suffering from multiple sclerosis. For those of you who have not heard of her, she is a Jewish singer/songwriter, famous for writing Jewish folk/rock music that has become popular in many Conservative and Reform synagogues and schools. The above link is a really nice obituary, if you’re interested.
One thing that Debbie Friedman is famous for is her use of gender-sensitive language. In the song L’chi Lach she uses the female command “L’chi Lach” instead of “Lech Lecha,” the command that is found in the Torah, to show that Sarah was commanded to make the same journey that Abraham made.
It’s a beautiful song, I think–and one that is a welcome addition to the plethora of male-centered Judaica that we have today.
From “Not by Might” to her rendition of “Misheberach,” I’ve heard and learned so many of Debbie Friedman’s songs since I was a little girl: her music has been a huge presence in my repertoire of Jewish music. Although it’s a tragedy that she died at such a young age and after so much suffering, I know that her legacy will live on in the memories and voices of the Jewish community.